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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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A. Viegas
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 03/05/12

Loc: New York City/ CT
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: scopenitout]
      #6258664 - 12/17/13 05:57 PM

In the very first page of this original thread I posted my doubts concerning this product. It is evident that celestron targets the SSA to the more casual of their customers (hence the lack of ASPA and poor alignment with need for frequent calibration...). Like many i was hoping for a true remote setup option such that I could fully automate the alignment process after a wake up from hibernate which I find I am always having to tweak... Alas SSA is just not ready for prime time at its $300 price point. For a more limited quick align option like they have on the sky prodigy series it should have been priced at $150. Then nobody would be complaining and we could wait for the SSA "pro" which would have ASPA and improved accuracy and more remote operating features....

Al


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oo_void
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/13/09

Loc: San Francisco, CA
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: scopenitout]
      #6259088 - 12/17/13 10:09 PM

Quote:

Even though my SSA was returned for a refund weeks ago, I still like to visit this thread to monitor what is being done to fix it. Not much it seems.
In the meantime, I have started to experiment with Astrotortilla. So far this looks to answer the call for fast and very accurate alignments. Something my SSA could not deliver. Looking back, I question why I ever wasted my time with SSA, especially considering I already had a dslr camera connected for imaging. Integrated with BYEos (Premium Ed.), Astrotortilla is proving to be a very useful and reliable tool.




How do you use AstroTortilla for alignment? I can understanding pointing and framing but last I checked, you have to align and build the pointing model in the HC before you can pass control over to ASCOM.


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Raginar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: oo_void]
      #6259104 - 12/17/13 10:18 PM

His point is the model doesn't need accuracy because you're using truth data to find the object via imaging.

For instance, I align my mount with a Telrad and my targets fall within 5 arc seconds every time.


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C8er
super member


Reged: 09/15/12

Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: scopenitout]
      #6259220 - 12/17/13 11:22 PM

Hi Stew, Neilson, scopenitout.

Sure it was a terrible release for these devices, and I wouldn't try and defend Celestron on that, but I don't think it is fair to say not much is being done now to fix the SSA glitches.

I am helping the engineers at Celestron with it now, testing for them very frequently at the moment, and I know for sure they are working hard on it and coding and testing fixes all the time to the various glitches. They will get those fixes through beta testing to public release as soon as they safely can.

Yes, the priorities for what they are fixing next don't always suit everyone, but that is inevitable. Whatever they fixed next wouldn't please people not affected by that problem who are waiting for something else to be fixed, so they can't win on that one.

Neilson you do seem to have quite a collection of problems with yours but I suspect they will get them sorted eventually if you choose to keep hanging in there. I know they are well aware of your set of problems.

Stew, I have seen my SSA give very good gotos all over the sky after faultless auto aligns on at least one GEM mount, my AVX, on a hazy night with a very bright moon up as well, and without needing any extra calibration areas, just a camera OTA-calibrate and the four image auto aligns. That may have been on beta SSA firmware though.

I just wanted to say after seeing it said that not much is happening, that I know for sure that they are working very hard on fixes all the time and are releasing them through various levels of beta testing, and I am sure will get them through to public release as quickly as they can safely do it.

I know the wait for fixes isn't for everyone, and some will just return the units, with good justification, but I for one am happy to perservere as I can see they are making significant progress, and I still see enormous potential for these devices eventually, both for visual observers, and I think probably eventually if they get some sort of SSA equivalent to the old "precise goto" into the firmware, also for those wanting performance that will better suit imaging.

Cheers,
Chris M


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Stew57
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: Silsbee Texas
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: C8er]
      #6259247 - 12/17/13 11:49 PM

Yes with a full moon tonight it completes the auto align with good pointing accuracy. It usually finishes at dusk and with thin clouds. When it is actually dark is when it hangs and won't complete an auto align. The manual align always works. The auto align when there were high thin clouds where only a few stars were visible such as Vega was quite impressive. The year bug should be fixed shortly. Just hope the fireworks and cake happens soon (ASPA).

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neilson
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/22/10

Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: Stew57]
      #6259485 - 12/18/13 05:39 AM

Chris,

I don't know what fixes your talking about, Its been a while, Nov. 8th since I've seen any beta releases and it was mostly about a new installer and a few minor changes for the hibernate and something about being able to disabling tracking. So not much.
And working on getting the SSA to work in the south doesn't help any of us that already bought one.
If there's going to be any fixes that might effect one of us coming out soon we sure would like to know.

Neilson



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scopenitout
member


Reged: 08/24/13

Loc: Mt. Belzoni
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: oo_void]
      #6259918 - 12/18/13 11:40 AM

Quote:


How do you use AstroTortilla for alignment? I can understanding pointing and framing but last I checked, you have to align and build the pointing model in the HC before you can pass control over to ASCOM.




On my C-11 EDGE/CGEM-DX/BYEos-DSLR all you do is:
1) Turn on the mount and put it to the index marks.
2) On the HC, press "Quick Align". (You never need the HC again, assuming you already have the mount PA'd).
3) Use your planetarium software (I use Stellarium) to goto an object or star.
4) Take a shot and let Astrotortilla slew the mount and solve the image. Repeat 4) to refine the model.
5) Done. Do your imaging with great pointing accuracy all over the sky.

As I'm finding out in my experiments, AT has some subtle adjustments that can make or break it's ability to solve images reliably and consistently. The documentation is a bit sparse, but once you try a few adjustments and see their effect, it becomes easier.

To return to the SSA thread, at least I can get AT working just about anytime I fire it up. I spent dozens of hours with the SSA and *never* got it to work with any repeatability.

Edited by scopenitout (12/18/13 11:50 AM)


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OneDaveT
sage
*****

Reged: 10/24/11

Loc: IL, USA
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: C8er]
      #6260155 - 12/18/13 01:54 PM

Quote:


I am helping the engineers at Celestron with it now, testing for them very frequently at the moment, and I know for sure they are working hard on it and coding and testing fixes all the time to the various glitches. They will get those fixes through beta testing to public release as soon as they safely can.

Yes, the priorities for what they are fixing next don't always suit everyone, but that is inevitable. Whatever they fixed next wouldn't please people not affected by that problem who are waiting for something else to be fixed, so they can't win on that one.





Glad to hear you say that Chris. I haven't seen any activity in the beta testing Team Celestron site since beginning of November. It gives the impression of abandonment for those completely stuck.

One would think that the nearly 100% repeatability of lockup on GEMs might warrant some concern and priority or possibly offering a work around. My SSA has been useless since that issue was introduced, as well as the many others with GEMs that have encountered lockup during acquisition.


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oo_void
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/13/09

Loc: San Francisco, CA
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: scopenitout]
      #6260383 - 12/18/13 03:49 PM

Quote:

On my C-11 EDGE/CGEM-DX/BYEos-DSLR all you do is:
1) Turn on the mount and put it to the index marks.
2) On the HC, press "Quick Align". (You never need the HC again, assuming you already have the mount PA'd).
3) Use your planetarium software (I use Stellarium) to goto an object or star.
4) Take a shot and let Astrotortilla slew the mount and solve the image. Repeat 4) to refine the model.
5) Done. Do your imaging with great pointing accuracy all over the sky.

As I'm finding out in my experiments, AT has some subtle adjustments that can make or break it's ability to solve images reliably and consistently. The documentation is a bit sparse, but once you try a few adjustments and see their effect, it becomes easier.

To return to the SSA thread, at least I can get AT working just about anytime I fire it up. I spent dozens of hours with the SSA and *never* got it to work with any repeatability.




But, you're not building a model ... you're just plate-solving and syncing. Don't get me wrong, I love plate-solving and use Maxim and PinPoint for framing when imaging, but it's not an alternative to SSA or 2+4 calibration and then an ASPA.


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Stew57
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: Silsbee Texas
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: OneDaveT]
      #6260501 - 12/18/13 04:50 PM

Quote:

One would think that the nearly 100% repeatability of lockup on GEMs might warrant some concern and priority or possibly offering a work around. My SSA has been useless since that issue was introduced, as well as the many others with GEMs that have encountered lockup during acquisition.




I wouldn't say useless even though the auto alignment locks up. Manual align always works. It is easier than a 2+4 though no faster, and t is just as accurate if not more so. The lack of working ASPA for many of us is driving me nuts though, but there are work arounds for that. What does impress me is Celestron's effort at communication on the teamcelestron site. Not many make that level of effort anymore.


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tboconnor
member


Reged: 01/14/10

Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: neilson]
      #6260528 - 12/18/13 05:06 PM

Quote:

Chris,


And working on getting the SSA to work in the south doesn't help any of us that already bought one.
If there's going to be any fixes that might effect one of us coming out soon we sure would like to know.

Neilson





It sure helps those in the southern hem that bought the SSA.


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scopenitout
member


Reged: 08/24/13

Loc: Mt. Belzoni
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: oo_void]
      #6260595 - 12/18/13 05:42 PM

Quote:


But, you're not building a model ... you're just plate-solving and syncing. Don't get me wrong, I love plate-solving and use Maxim and PinPoint for framing when imaging, but it's not an alternative to SSA or 2+4 calibration and then an ASPA.




Irrespective of the terms, I do understand what AT is doing, thank you. After I go through with procedure as I described, when I click on an object in Stellarium, the mount does a goto the object...exactly. I never use the HC again for any and all objects I want to image that session. The mount performs no different than if I'd done a careful 2+4 via the HC.

The SSA is a camera. And a computer. And it is taking and processing images to position the mount. Imaging and plate solving, just like using AT (except that AT works better).

And although I have used ASPA, I usually drift align with the helper in BYEos. There is also a PA function in AT, but I have not used it yet.


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neilson
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/22/10

Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: tboconnor]
      #6260657 - 12/18/13 06:06 PM

Chris
The SSA has not been released in the southern hemisphere yet.
You would probably have a different view if yours didn't work.

neilson


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Carrera991
member


Reged: 10/27/12

Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: OneDaveT]
      #6260777 - 12/18/13 07:20 PM

Quote:

Quote:


I am helping the engineers at Celestron with it now, testing for them very frequently at the moment, and I know for sure they are working hard on it and coding and testing fixes all the time to the various glitches. They will get those fixes through beta testing to public release as soon as they safely can.

Yes, the priorities for what they are fixing next don't always suit everyone, but that is inevitable. Whatever they fixed next wouldn't please people not affected by that problem who are waiting for something else to be fixed, so they can't win on that one.





Glad to hear you say that Chris. I haven't seen any activity in the beta testing Team Celestron site since beginning of November. It gives the impression of abandonment for those completely stuck.

One would think that the nearly 100% repeatability of lockup on GEMs might warrant some concern and priority or possibly offering a work around. My SSA has been useless since that issue was introduced, as well as the many others with GEMs that have encountered lockup during acquisition.




I believe he is talking about the southern hemisphere fixes. That is their priority. As for ASPA and other items it will months if they are ever fixed at all.

I finally said to myself enough with Celestron and their poor customer service. I am getting an AP 1100 or SB MX in February/March. Can't wait to rid my self of these Yahoos...


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C8er
super member


Reged: 09/15/12

Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: neilson]
      #6260808 - 12/18/13 07:39 PM

Hi Neilson,

Oh if only it were true that mine has been working! I have had my SSA three and half months now (I think you've had your's two months and a bit), and it is only in the last week that I now have it working at all, and that on just one of my three Celestron mounts! Still no go at all on the other two mounts even now.

Before last week it was just a paperweight for me when I wasn't doing tests for the engineers. At least yours aligns sometimes, and with not bad 2 arc minute accuracy when it does align I think I saw.

So I know the same frustrations and annoyances you do, perhaps far more even after that length of time, even as a private beta tester!

I'll try and come back to you and OneDave on more specifics of what fixes I have been helping them work on very recently. There is no mystery to it and they are problems you will be aware of if you are still reading all the SSA threads in the team celestron public beta area, but I just need to check with Celestron first that I can say that here, as being a private beta tester I have signed a non disclosure agreement.

They are though, I can assure you, working hard right now on fixing more than one problem. Yes, there are then other problems for them still to even start fixing, and biggies among them, but they are doing their best from what I can see.


Cheers,
Chris M


Quote:

Chris
The SSA has not been released in the southern hemisphere yet.
You would probably have a different view if yours didn't work.

neilson




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OneDaveT
sage
*****

Reged: 10/24/11

Loc: IL, USA
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: Stew57]
      #6260908 - 12/18/13 08:49 PM

Quote:

Quote:

One would think that the nearly 100% repeatability of lockup on GEMs might warrant some concern and priority or possibly offering a work around. My SSA has been useless since that issue was introduced, as well as the many others with GEMs that have encountered lockup during acquisition.




I wouldn't say useless even though the auto alignment locks up. Manual align always works. It is easier than a 2+4 though no faster, and t is just as accurate if not more so. The lack of working ASPA for many of us is driving me nuts though, but there are work arounds for that.




Useless, relative to just using my original hand controller, which appears to be mature firmware. There is no advantage that I'm aware of in using the SSA HC without the auto alignment. Relative, to having no HC, I agree it's not useless in that case :-)


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C8er
super member


Reged: 09/15/12

Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: OneDaveT]
      #6260941 - 12/18/13 09:21 PM

Hi OneDave,

I think the repeatable lockups thing you have is just affecting some GEMS, not all, and it looks to me as though it is quite likely only on some GEMS trying to align with a partly obscured sky in one position, so it isn't as though all GEMs cannot auto align as far as I can see (my AVX as an example auto aligns very well, but it has no permanent sky obstructions to deal with). If that is true it affects the priority of the fix rather a lot I would think, although no one would say it is an unimportant problem.

On your trees, are you able to try a different spot for the mount that has no obstructed sky areas (or at least none in one of the standard places it tries to image), and see if it still locks up then? Just an idea to see if that gets you around the problem until they can get to it. Obviously if your mount is permanently mounted and can't be moved then that isn't very helpful, but I don't know your setup.

Cheers,
Chris M


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OneDaveT
sage
*****

Reged: 10/24/11

Loc: IL, USA
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: C8er]
      #6261039 - 12/18/13 10:42 PM

I appreciate your thoughts Chris. I think it would be tricky business trying to speculate how many people with Celestron GEMs have completely clear views of the horizons for all acquisitions

As the unit will lock up 4-5 acquisitions in a row requiring manual reboot each time, the time wasted, is far longer than it takes me to do a 2+4 manual alignment with my NextStar hand controller, which of course was the entire point of buying an SSA to begin with.

If the preferred course of action by customers is to use the original hand controller over a $330 add-on, I would think one would want to assign that issue the highest priority. I suppose one could rationalize the issue and marginalize it to thinking it's only a small few who have obstructions, but realistically speaking, unless one lives on a harvested farm or a mountain peak, who doesn't have obstruction in their back yard? Question of priority may lie in how many "just some GEMs" is.

When I've written firmware for consumer devices in the past, lockups are an absolute not allowed, as consumer's will return the useless thing. It's so important, that we implement detection mechanisms and mitigating recovery actions.... Items do not ship if they consistently lock up. Damage done to reputation and cost of returns, lost customers, etc can be huge. Ok, I'm going off the deep end here on what I think Celestron should have done, so I'll just cut myself off this tangent.

Dave


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Stew57
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: Silsbee Texas
Re: Celestron StarSense new [Re: OneDaveT]
      #6261058 - 12/18/13 11:04 PM

The manual alignments are a little faster and much easier than a 2+4 alignment. Slew to a clear are in the west slightly to the north, press align and wait for the solve, then move a bit to the south , press align, wait for the solve, repeat to the east. +-2 arcminute pointing and not centering in finder, eyepiece or camera. Having to use manual alignment does devalue the SSA some but hopefully they will have that solved soon. The real problem in my opinion is, with my unit at least, the broken ASPA.

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C8er
super member


Reged: 09/15/12

Re: Celestron StarSense [Re: Stew57]
      #6261226 - 12/19/13 01:58 AM

Hi Dave, Neilson, Stew.

Dave, you make some very reasonable points in your latest. I'd just add that relative priorities are a very difficult area and in the end only Celestron can set them.

I said I'd see what I could say on what I have been helping Celestron try and fix on the SSA in very recent days and I have now been given permission to talk just a little about that here.

In very recent days I have been helping them with three problems, testing firmware aimed at helping resolve the Southern problems, helping on the non star sensing CG5 mounts problem, with some special hardware being sent right now to a small number of testers including myself to test if that helps with that issue, and also helping with a GPS handling problem that gets the year wrong.

That is all I can say on those issues apart from a little more on the GPS problem below, and I don't know what other SSA problems, if any, they might be working on as well at the moment with other testers. I am also not privy to any more knowledge on the other priorities beyond what they have said in the public beta area of Team Celestron.

On the status of the GPS handling problem a Celestron engineer (Derik) has just told me, "As of the November 7th release all known GPS issues were thought to have been resolved. However, about 10 days ago we discovered a new bug. Starting December 1st, the RTC (and possibly GPS) clocks are reading back the wrong year (2012 instead of 2013). We will release to public beta as soon as this (and other recent changes) can be properly tested."

I'm a software developer of 30 plus years experience and software business owner for more than 20 years so none of the following is a surprise to me, but getting fixes through even just to public beta isn't a simple or fast process always as it can involve a lot of to-and-fro stuff between the engineers and private beta testers (and not just testing a fix after it is coded, sometimes also at the initial analysis phase of getting nitty gritty fine detail on a problem before a fix can even be made). Sometimes that involves just a small subset of those private beta testers at first, then a wider group of them later.

Throw in nights with cloudy skies, perhaps for extended periods, the fact that private testers are volunteer helpers who can't always respond to the engineers requests for help immediately, and the wide range of mount models involved, and it does often take significant time (not often just days or even just a week) to get a reasonably safe to use fix/release through even as far as public beta.

I can assure you there is a lot of work going on though and I can see that Celestron very much want the next round of fixes to get to public beta, and of course full public release, as soon as they safely can, so they can move quickly on to the next priorities.

That's how I see it anyway from my vantage point. I hope it helps to know that, but I also understand that if those particular problems don't affect your mounts and you have other problems they haven't got to working on yet, then it may not help your frustration right now.

Just remember this is coming to you from an at times equally frustrated and angry fellow SSA buyer who only has it working at all on one of his three Celestron mounts as yet, and that only in the last week, after buying it three and a half months ago. What I'm saying here isn't trying to make any excuses for the very poor release of this potentially wonderful device, but I am happy now to be helping them get it right.

Cheers,
Chris M


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